Two “Patients” Could Use Your Vote

It’s this time each year that I notice an increased excitement, a buzz, in most of the people I work with. Some would account this behaviour to the onset of Spring, but I say it’s for a different season altogether.  The Webby Award season.

Each year the Webby Awards honour the best of the web.  Now in their 16th year, their ever expanding categories include interactive, mobile and apps. If TED talks are the new innovative “ideas worth spreading” then the Webbys are the ideas that have worked.  The creative eyes of the world tune into this award ceremony each year and just about every agency wants their work showcased here.

Our congratulations then to the individuals, agencies and foundations that saw TWO (2) patient stories listed on this year’s nominee ballot.

Under the online film & video category of Public Service and Activism both Dear 16-year-old Me by the David Cornfield Melanoma Fund and Living With Alzheimer’s by Relate Digital for the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, (featured below respectively) are listed.


While next year’s ballot will most likely include KONY 2012 (lessons to learn when your campaign goes viral), this year, it’s all about the patient.  We’re asking you, our community to help make these videos even more memorable by casting your vote.

You can watch this year’s awards online with the rest of the world.  Hosted by one of my favourite comedians, Patton Oswalt on May 21st, it promises to be a good show.

“Valleys”: A DP’s Perspective

Last week I was whisked away to Georgetown, Ontario. A young and talented Director from Alberta had hired me as his Director of Photography and all encompassing “camera guy”, for his newly envisioned web series.

Mike Lang, is the Director, and “Valleys” is his new project.

Diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma at the age of 25, Mike rapidly launched Survive & Thrive Expeditions, an organization that seeks to  connect young adult cancer patients with peers. Whether it’s a whitewater trip down a river or a serene sailing trip along the inlets of Canada’s west coast – Survive & Thrive (STE) has provided much needed solitude and support to courageous patients.



And if this wasn’t enough, Mike had cameras rolling the entire time. During these past few years Mike has cut together footage of his expeditions and the intimate interviews captured between survivors.

With this he has already created  two uniquely inspirational and mind expanding films, “Wrong Way to Hope” and “Ebb & Flow“.  Mike’s films have been used as educational materials by health institutes to provide a common link between practitioners and patients.

Determined isn’t quite enough to describe Mike as he now tackles creating his third film project in only a few short years.

With the next STE trip set for this summer (a rafting trip in the Grand Canyon), Mike has his lens aimed at Amy Aubin, a young mother  scheduled to participate in this year’s trip. “Valleys” would be a web series documentary that would share Amy’s story from start to end.

As I stepped foot off the Georgetown GO bus from Toronto, it became evidently clear why Amy’s story had to be told. Amy is a two time cancer survivor – ovarian and cervical.  She’s also a loving mother to the family’s “miracle baby”, Avery.

Mike and I spent two days filming Amy and her family, making regular stops at Tim Horton’s to stay fueled.  Avery provided walk around tours of the house, her toys and pets, while Amy told her story for us and the cameras.  On the last day Mike and I were invited to a family dinner, where both sides of Avery’s family were represented – Grandparents, Uncles and Aunts, friends.

Those last few hours were precious.  We took advantage of our time at dinner and managed to interview almost everyone including Amy’s husband John and their respective parents.

To say this time was intimate would be a massive understatement.  I found myself trying to find focus between bouts of tearing from the incredibly candid and honest narratives each family member provided.  This was the hardest assignment I have filmed to date – it was also the most memorable and rewarding.

Though my time filming “Valleys” has ended, the camera is still recording.  Fingers-crossed, “Valleys” will reach its goal of raising $17,000 by April 14 so that Amy’s journey can continue to be documented full circle, from Georgetown, to the Grand Canyon. Until she arrives safely home, back into the loving and supportive arms of John, Avery, Mom, Dad, Siblings, Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, dog and cat.